Starbucks eyes health segment with acquisition

by Keith Nunes
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SEATTLE — The Starbucks Coffee Co. has acquired Evolution Fresh, Inc., San Bernadino, Calif., a processor of “super-premium” juices, for $30 million. Starbucks said it intends to use the acquisition to establish a foothold in the $50 billion health and wellness sector.

“Our intent is to build a national health and wellness brand leveraging our scale, resources and premium product expertise,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “Bringing Evolution Fresh into the Starbucks family marks an important step forward in this pursuit. Over the last year-and-a-half we have looked comprehensively at possible opportunities and chose Evolution Fresh because it stood above anything else in terms of premium quality, nutrition and potential for growth.”

Jimmy Rosenberg, the founder of Naked Juice, started Evolution Fresh and has been appointed “chief juice officer” for Starbucks. Evolution Fresh differentiates itself from other juice makers by using fresh ingredients and high pressure pasteurization to process juices that are never exposed to high levels of heat.

Starbucks said it plans to expand beyond Evolution Fresh’s current distribution into additional channels, as well as begin to make Evolution Fresh products available in Starbucks company-owned retail stores providing nationwide presence and awareness. In order to achieve its goal, Starbucks said it will look to make investments over time for upgrades to existing facilities as well as expansion needed for the broadened distribution of the product and for future growth plans for the brand.

Plans are also in the works to introduce a new health and wellness retail concept that will further redefine the super-premium juice category, according to Starbucks. The retail concept is planned for early-to-mid calendar 2012.

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